Monday, March 30, 2009

Tigole on quests

As you might already have heard, during the GDC Jeff Kaplan aka Tigole not only admitted having created the worst quest in World of Warcraft, but also now thinks he can do it better, and lists 9 WoW quest problems. Not a very coherent or comprehensive list, I'm afraid, although there are some good points in there.

Stretched over 2 points Tigole talks about quest texts which are too long, or as he says: "Basically, and I'm speaking to the Blizzard guys in the back: we need to stop writing a fucking book in our game, because nobody wants to read it." In a third, related point he talks about how players don't read quests because the quest hub has 10 different questgivers with 10 different quests, and players just take them all without even looking.

He didn't say how to solve these 3 problems. Hopefully not because he has no idea, but because he doesn't want to give away the idea before he has implemented it in Blizzard's next MMO. For me the solution appears to be pretty obvious: Instead of the village having 10 quests you can take at once, it should have one quest chain of 10 quests you have to do in sequence. Besides text, audio and visual means can be used to tell the quest story, one in which you are the hero saving the village. And voila, instead of a bunch of errands you get a real quest with a real story, one which you'll actually be interested in and which you will remember. Like you remember Veteran of the Wrathgate.

Tigole makes some other good points, like that quest chains shouldn't span several levels, because you'll forget them while leveling up. Or that the quest should give sufficient hints for you to know where to go and what to do. But where I didn't agree was that "gimmick quests" are a mistake. Don't get me wrong, we all know they are a gimmick. But I'd rather do an occasional bombing run or similar gimmick than yet another kill 10 foozles quest. And gimmicks like vehicles are probably better placed in quests, where they are optional, than in raid dungeons, where they are not. Funnily the picture Tigole showed for a "gimmick quest without polish" isn't actually a quest at all, but part of the Occulus instance. Go figure.

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